Friday, January 02, 2009

Prompt: January 2, 2009

Write about something that happens
on this park bench.


Jill said...

Miami Sunday

“You can’t sit there,” Jeremy yells. His body shakes as the old man in the hat ignores Jeremy’s orders, sits down, sets his cane against his left leg, doesn’t say a word.

“That’s the squirrel’s home. Where they stay when they can’t find nuts. You can’t sit there.”

The old man doesn’t even turn his head, pulls a newspaper from his coat packet and unfolds. It’s not the whole newspaper, only the sports section. Front page: Miami Heat lost third straight despite 38 points from Wade.

“There’s not a lot of nuts right now, you know. Look around.” Jeremy quivers and twists, thinks about sliding down the bench, grabbing the old man by the neck, but he’s old, and even though Jeremy’s crazy, he knows better than to strangle an old man with a cane. “It’s the economy, stupid. That’s why the nuts are gone. We have to ship all our nuts in from China. And the acorns too.”

The old man adjusts the paper, smoothes a crinkle and reads on about the Heat’s loss to the Lakers. Wade shot 6 for 8 from three, but the defense couldn’t stop Kobe. He netted 47 on 42% shooting. His fifth straight game with 40+ points.

“American nuts are better, you know.” Jeremy is determined, to get this old man off his bench, so the squirrels can return to their home. “The Chinese don’t know nothing about nuts, but they work hard. Got five and six year olds working in the nut factories over there. There’s laws against that in America.”

“Hey, what’s your name?” Jeremy asks. He waits several seconds before yelling “yoo hoo, buddy, what’s your name?” Still, no response. The old man is engrossed, doesn’t even notice when his cane slides down his leg, smacks against the concrete. Jeremy stares at the shiny wood, waits for the old man to pick it up, realizes all of a sudden that maybe he should do the old man a favor.

Jeremy wipes his dirty hand on his dirty tee shirt, which smells of cat piss and beer, leans over without raising his seat off the bench, and lifts the cane with only thumb and forefinger. Holding it out at arm’s length, he waits for the old man to say, ‘thank you.’ The old man doesn’t blink, continues reading.

“Hey buddy!” Jeremy shakes the cane so hard it falls from his grip, cracks again against the sidewalk. He has to lean further this time to keep his seat on the end of the bench, but can’t quite reach. He falls on his elbow, funny bone, and laughs. Rolls into the fetal position and can’t stop laughing.

Finally, the old man notices, but only because he’s turning the page. “My goodness sir, are you alright?”

Jeremy looks up; his eyes are inches from the old man’s skinny left kneecap. He pulls on the outstretched hand of the old man and gets to his feet, says, “thanks.”

“What?” The old man fumbles, pulls his earphones out and asks, “Did you say something?”

“Thank you,” Jeremy blushes. He sits back down in a slump, head dropped, wipes his nose on his left sleeve, then turns, upright, angry, yelling, “You’re sitting in the squirrel’s home. Get out.”

It’s too late, the old man’s already got his earphones back in, the station tuned to the NBA broadcast of the Heat’s game. This afternoon, Miami’s up seven against the Cavs. Wade’s shooting lights out from long range. Maybe this is the beginning of a turnaround.

Carol Henderson said...

I love the surprise. The old man has earphones. He isn't deaf or dumb. He's engaged in the game. Good portraits of two obsessed people. Are they both crazy?

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